Accepting Genetics Without Excusing Obesity

If you struggle to continue trying to lose weight because of media messages that say obesity doesn’t matter, I encourage you to be your own person and do what is best for your long-term health.

March 25, 2016
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Obesity isn’t a condition that you should ignore or embrace. These days with plus-sized models on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the rise of the health at any size movement (HAES), you might find it hard to convince yourself to keep trying to lose weight because of size acceptance.

Former supermodel Chery Tiegs was recently criticized for saying that Ashley Graham, the plus-sized model featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated shouldn’t be celebrated because she wasn’t healthy. While Tiegs eventually clarified her quote, the incident revived the public discussion about the acceptance of obesity in our society.

Not everyone has the genetic makeup to be super slim nor the desire to be so, but there is a recommended weight range based on age, height, and sex. Falling outside that weight range on either side isn’t ideal for your health unless you are a super muscular bodybuilder or athlete.

When you see successful models like Graham, feel frustrated with your natural body type, or notice that almost everyone around you is overweight, you may start to feel as though losing weight is just a waste of time and effort.

If you’ve ever read any of the literature on the HAES movement, you will find that proponents of the movement believe that it doesn’t matter what the scale says, so long as you are healthy.

My argument against that way of thinking is that many of the people who promote HAES are young and haven’t yet felt the long-term impacts of their obesity. I’ve seen firsthand what years of obesity do to a person, and the consequences can be quite serious: diabetes, cellulitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, ruined knees, and even premature death. If those aren’t bad enough, the Cleveland Clinic has another long list of medical problems that go along with obesity.

Obesity is nothing to scoff at or brush under the rug.

So how do you ignore the increasing acceptance of obesity and keep going with your own weight loss efforts?

Be Your Own Person

Come to the place where you believe that losing weight is the best thing for you regardless of what messages the media, organizations, or even your friends send you.

Although I lost weight before the time when obesity was more accepted, I did have friends tell me to just “accept my size and quit worrying about losing weight.”

I’m glad I didn’t listen to them.

Listen to Your Doctor

Your doctor knows the health consequences of long-term obesity. If your doctor has been after you to lose weight, then don’t give up because some sectors of society tell you it doesn’t matter.

Think About Your Future

If you are on the fence about trying to lose weight, just think about your future. Living your life with 50, 100, or 150 pounds of extra weight isn’t easy. Just the other day I picked up a 50-pound bag of sand from the home improvement store and barely got it into the shopping cart. I remarked to my daughter, “I can’t believe I carried around the equivalent of three of those bags on my body for 10 years.”

Be Satisfied with Small Progress

It can be overwhelming to face the fact that you’ve got a lot of weight to lose. If that’s you, then take small steps and be happy when you make some progress. Think about your weight loss as a long-term project that may take time. As long as you are going in the right direction, it doesn’t matter if it takes you a while to get there.

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